March 2, 2006 at 11:34 pm #48813
Nothing new, that ghostbusters deal though…
March 3, 2006
How did Dinosaur Jr re-form after the nastiest split in rock history? Sacha Molitorisz has to ask.
If there are 50 ways to leave your lover, there must be just as many ways to sack your bass player. J. Mascis chose one of the worst. In 1989, the Dinosaur Jr guitarist lied to Lou Barlow, whom he’d formed the band with alongside drummer Emmett "Murph" Murphy in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1984.
"They sorta told me the band had broken up," Barlow says. "Then, within two or three weeks, they were playing a show in Australia. I found out fairly quickly that they hadn’t broken up. That did kinda hurt at the time."
Now there’s an understatement.
"You guys f—ing suck!" is what he said at the time.
"I carried that grudge for a long time and resorted to small-minded revenge tactics," Barlow says. "I sued J, wrote songs about him, shit-talked him any opportunity I got."
Mascis forged ahead with Dinosaur Jr until 1997 with albums such as Green Mind and Where You Been. Barlow enjoyed success with Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion.
Neither artist struck commercial gold, but both established formidable reputations as purveyors of indie rock: Mascis by wailing like a demented adolescent and wringing implausible solos from his Fender axe; Barlow by revealing his sensitive side in beautiful songs such as Skull.
Barlow’s axing by the axeman led to a cold war that only recently thawed. How did Barlow and Mascis reconcile?
"He would start showing up at Sebadoh shows in about ’95 or ’96," Barlow says. "I didn’t really care. I was like, ‘What the hell is he doing here?’ Then, later on, we played a show together that my mother had booked, a benefit for families with autism.
My mum got hold of J. and told him I would be playing. That was interesting.
"We even had a one-song reunion of our pre-Dinosaur band. That was in 2003. Or maybe 2004. And we have friends in common we both work with, so I started to see him more often. Then I decided to clear the air."
Meanwhile, diehard Dinosaur Jr fans complained the band’s original line-up never made it to Australia. Now the original trio is on its way. How weird.
"No, it’s not weird," Barlow says. "Well, I suppose, in a way, of course it is. To be doing interviews in 2006 for a band I was kicked out of in 1989 – a band that I never thought I would play for again – in a way it’s weird."
Between 1985 and 1988, the band released three potent albums: Dinosaur, You’re Living All Over Me and Bug. Last year those first three albums were remastered and reissued, with two results. One, the sleeve photos reconfirm that Barlow was a dead ringer for Harold Ramis in Ghostbusters. Two, people are still interested. So much so that the original trio re-formed.
Just don’t go hoping to hear your favourite Dinosaur Jr songs from the ’90s. The resurrected band’s set list is derived from those first three albums. Luckily, Barlow still likes those songs.
"They’re great, really interesting," Barlow says.
"I guess it all turned out for the best."
Thursday, 8pm, Metro Theatre, 624 George Street, city, 9287 2000, $49.90. The March 10 show has sold out. Lou Barlow will play a solo show at the Annandale Hotel on March 25.
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